The Lead Sheet: Twin Cities Jazz, October 26-November 1

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I think I saw snow mixed with this morning's rain. The days are getting shorter, the leaves are pretty much done, and we have an election to survive. Add to that, in the Twin Cities we now have both of our major classical orchestras locked out over stalled contract negotiations. The only solution—live music, wherever you can find it, and be advised that there are no area jazz ensembles locked out over salary disputes! If you find yourself with some open evenings, just trade in your Beethoven and Chopin for some Miles Davis and Bill Evans. Or whatever. There's plenty to choose from this week, including one of Minnesota's most acclaimed music makers, Maria Schneider. 

Big Gigs This Week  Friday, October 26.  Lauded locally and nationally, vocalist Connie Evingson returns for a night at the Dakota, bringing her signature swing to a very wide-ranging repertoire, from the Gershwins to the Beatles, from bebop to gypsy jazz to samba. Her latest recording, Sweet Happy Life, celebrates the under-appreciated talents of songwriter Norman Gimbel. But whatever Connie sings, and with a band that includes Tanner Taylor, Dave Karr, Terry Burns, and Mac Santiago, you will have at least one evening of a “sweet happy life."

For a more casual, still classy evening, check out the dinner set at the Icehouse where pianist Peter Schimke and bassist Jeff Bailey will vye with table chatter for attention, but the effort will be worthwhile and you can't beat the “no cover" charge for music at this level. 

Friday-Saturday, October 26-27. Since he “retired" from his day job at Lino Lakes, Weather Report veteran drummer Eric Kamau Gravatt has led Source Code, usually performing at the Artists Quarter where they will take the stage this weekend. Also touring regularly with McCoy Tyner, Gravatt and his powerhouse chops collaborate with vibes master Dave Hagedorn, bassist Ron Evaniuk, and pianist Gene Rush on interpretations of bop and post bop compositions. This isn;t the sort of music, or talent, that you can readily find in a midwest club for a $12 cover.

Just back from her latest boogie-woogie tour in Bavaria, vocalist Lila Ammons and her quintet play back to back gigs this weekend, Friday at Hell's Kitchen and Saturday at the Honey Lounge. In addition to her soulful vocals, Lila and company offer an entertaining evening complete with trivia quiz. She's back by veteran saxman Dean Brewington, bassist Bruce “Pooch" Heine, drummer Tim Zhorne, and up-and-coming pianist Ted Godbout.

Monday, October 29. It's not a slow start to the week. At the Dakota, Charmin (Michelle) and (Joel) Shapira are back for Foodie Night (no cover), joined by the extended Charmin & Shapira band of Paul Harper (sax), Tom Lewis (bass) and Nathan Norman (drums).  They swing hard through the Great American Songbook and other popular fare, from Latin to Bop and more.  For the later evening, stop by the Icehouse for the return of Chris Bates' Red 5, his newly launched quintet that released its first recording in September. Playing original music, Bates and friends will help you sharpen your ears and wits for the week ahead.

Big band fans will delight in the appearance of the Army Jazz Ambassadors in the high tech auditorium of Farmington High School—and this is a free concert. The Ambassadors are one of the premiere military bands on the scene, playing charts arranged by band members at a level on par with any big band working today. An added treat will be Farmington HS band director Jeff Gottwig leading his Jazz Ensemble I through an opening set.

Tuesday, October 30. It's the second of two Tuesday nights at the Artists Quarter with Dean Magraw, Bryan Nichols, Billy Peterson and Kenny Horst. This quartet is stuffed with so much talent, they deserve a name! If modern big band is on your radar, the Adam Meckler Orchestra returns to Jazz Central for their almost-monthly gig. If you only think of big dance floors and vocal soloists when you think of big bands, come to Jazz Central and experience the big band sounds of modern jazz, acoustically presented in an intimate space. Tuesday-Wednesday, October 30-31. The stage at the Dakota might seem too small for 17 musicians, but it has been done before and perhaps never this well as the Maria Schneider Orchestra comes to town. This might be the best Halloween treat you'll get! The Windom, MN native was here recently to conduct the St Paul Chamber Orchestra with Dawn Upshaw for a new recording, and to receive an honorary doctorate from the U of  M; now she's back with her Grammy-winning jazz orchestra in an uncommon appearance in a small club space. Not since Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer has a big band leader had such impact on the development of the art form.  Coming to town with Maria are such well-established talents as pianist Frank Kimbrough — worth a night at the club in his own right. Thursday, November 1. Vocalists are in the spotlight tonight. Arne Fogel launches a new Thursday night series at Jazz Central, starting with his own gig tonight and presenting other area talents each week. In St Paul at the new Third Floor (in the old Vintage mansion), Vicky Mountain and guitarist James Allen will shower you with a wide range of songs as you sip at the very classy bar and try one of the chocolate creations from two flights down—Dr. Chocolate's Chocolate Chateau. So far jazz and chocolate are proving to be a perfect combination.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzINK by Andrea Canter.
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